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Completing a hat-trick of seasonal lesson plan/idea/activity posts (see my snowman and turkey ideas) here’s something for the New Year.

Outnumbered is an excellent BBC comedy about a couple and their three children. The parents are played by Hugh Dennis (a really good comedian who you can see on the BBC programme Mock The Week, but whose chef-d’oeuvre is actually The Now Show) and Claire Skinner; however, the real stars of the show are the actors playing the children: Tyger Drew-Honey, Daniel Roche and Ramona Marquez. I say actors, but perhaps improvs would be a better term here, since most of their acting is actually improvisation – this is the key to the comedy of the programme, I think. Ramona Marquez, who plays Karen (you can see her in the clip above) is particularly brilliant – search on YouTube for her eulogy for a deceased pet mouse, so moving.

In the clip you can see Karen talking to her mum about her New Year’s resolutions. Here are Karen and her mum’s words in a nice word cloud:

Here’s the basic plan:

Talk with your students about the following (if you have already finished teaching before the holiday, just change the questions so that they are about the past)

  • What are their plans for the holiday?
  • Will they celebrate Christmas? (you could go off on a tangent here and ask about celebrations in different cultures as well)
  • What will they do to keep practising their English over the holiday? (note – if you are asking this question after the holiday and get a very rubbish answer, challenge your students to think how they could do better, the lazy bums!)

Next use the word cloud to introduce the basic future forms (‘I will not…’ ‘Mummy will stop…’ and ‘I will…’). You could:

  • Simply show the word cloud and ask your students to make sentences using the three bigger phrases as the beginnings of the sentences, finishing them with some of the smaller words (note- me and my are bigger as they appear twice in the resolutions in the video clip – they can be used more than once. The other words should only be used once). Remember that these should make sense!
  • Copy the sentences on to strips of paper and cut them in half (you can choose exactly where to make the split) and ask your students to put them back together (see below for a list of the resolutions from the clip).
  • Dictate the list of resolutions

Here is a list of the resolutions:

I will not poke my fingers in the butter.

I will not chew my duvet.

I will not call people idiots.

Mummy will stop nagging me.

Mummy will stop giving me cabbage.

I will eat less biscuits so I get more thinner.*

I will learn Italian.

*I kept the mistake in the list I transcribed as I thought it interesting, especially if you go on to discuss the improv nature of the show, or even into the realms of language acquisition (i.e. the stage children get to when they start applying grammar rules, like Karen has done with ‘more thinner’ and children often do with ‘goed’ instead of ‘went’).

Compare the sentences that your students create with the list above, and talk about any differences (including dealing with any errors). Ask your students to think about who is speaking each of the sentences. Focus on those in the list, but you can also include any your students have come up with.

Play the clip and use the sentences to teach/check the basic forms:

I will + infinitive

I will not + infinitive

Mummy will stop + gerund (-ing form)

Ask your students this question: ‘What is a New Year’s Resolution?’. Go over the basic notions (i.e. you make them for yourself, not other people; they should be some way in which you can improve yourself or challenge yourself to do better; they should be achievable, and so on).

Finally, set your students the task of coming up with their own New Year’s resolutions. They can then compare their resolutions with each other, and you can discuss whether they are good, achievable resolutions. They could be to do with learning English (probably best if you are using them for an English language lesson) but you could invite your students to make more general resolutions as well.

More about resolutions:

A project by the British Humanist Association looking at a different take on resolutions

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18 Responses to Mummy will stop giving me cabbage – New Year’s resolutions – lesson plan

  1. Cecilia says:

    Loved the idea Mike :-) Very timely too! Thanks for sharing!

  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Anna Musielak. Anna Musielak said: RT @harrisonmike Talking turkeys post updated and a new one on New Year's resolutions [...]

  3. Fab ideas, Mike and very creative. I love the video clip and you have used it to great effect as a backdrop to your lesson plan.
    Thanks for sharing this. Shame I haven’t got a F2F class to use it with this year, but great to bookmark it for future reference!

  4. Ania says:

    Great ideas Mike, thank you so much for posting it:)

  5. admin says:

    Thanks Cecilia, Janet and Ania for the comments.
    Hope you get some use sometime out of the ideas here.

    Mike =)

  6. Eva says:

    Hi Mike
    I once used the beginning of Bridget Jones’s Diary to encourage Ss to come up with their resolutions in the form of a list poem including humor, if possible, (e.g. I Will Not… go out every night but stay in, read books and listen to classical music, etc…).
    Of course, that led to a discussion on how (un)likely they thought they were to succeed with any of them :-)
    Anyway, I really like your warm-up and how you use the word cloud for language awareness. Thanks so much for sharing.

    • admin says:

      Haha, Eva, I like that!

      Perhaps the Bridget Jones clip could be a companion to the Outnumbered clip here. Always good if you can add in an element of comparison.

      Mike =)

  7. [...] @harrisonmike’s blog has made me realise that the end of the year is just around the corner. It is at this time, that we [...]

  8. Tyson says:

    I really liked the clip and now am likely going to spend the rest of the day watching clips of it rather than Xmas shopping. I love integrating the clip into the lesson too, especially as a comparison.

    • admin says:

      Hi Tyson,

      Thanks for the comment. It’s funny you mention watching the clips instead of Xmas shopping, since it was by looking for another Outnumbered clip that I found this one. I was actually looking for one where Ben (the boy with curly hair) pretends to be Bear Grylls, climbing up the face of the Eiger, without oxygen … or a jumper!

      I could honestly spend all day watching this program.

      Mike =)

  9. Anaka says:

    Love this idea. Looking forward to using it once classes start up this semester. Thanks for sharing!

    • admin says:

      Thanks, Anaka.
      I’m hoping to use the clip in a lesson next week, so I’ll be back to let everyone know how it goes!

      Mike =)

  10. Sandy says:

    Hi Mike,
    I used the clip and the word cloud with my Upper Int SS this morning – they enjoyed seeing real English in use and found the resolutions funny. They’ve made their own resolutions and I’ll check back in a few weeks to find out how they’re doing. One of them has also borrowed my copy of Series One of Outnumbered.
    Thanks for the resources!

    • admin says:

      Excellent, Sandy. I’m always happy to have helped to inspire Outnumbered-watching.

      Glad your students enjoyed it.

      Mike =)

  11. [...] Mummy will stop giving me cabbage – New Year's resolutions … [...]

  12. [...] New Year’s Resolutions: Mommy Will Stop Giving me Cabbage [...]

  13. Puri M. says:

    Wanted to use this lesson for my classes tomorrow but the clip can’t be opened from Indonesia, France, Saudi and Germany :(

    • admin says:

      Sorry to hear that, Puri. Obviously I can’t control whether YouTube make the video available in those countries. I would suggest trying to search for something like ‘Outnumbered Christmas special’ with your country filter on, and crossing your fingers.

      Mike =(

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